Breaking Down Osasumwen Osaghae’s NBA Potential

Osasumwen Osaghae in the post at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center. Photo Courtest of FIU Athletics.

Xavier Green/Asst. Sports Director

The national leader in blocked shots, walk-on turned scholarship athlete, FIU cult icon. Osasumwen Osaghae has had quite the meteoric rise to local stardom and has found himself among the top big men in the country, and could potentially find himself on a professional basketball team in the near future.

This should come as no surprise, Osaghae can block shots. This 6’9 center seems to have “Go Go Gadget Arms”. His wingspan is unlisted, however, it seems to be easily above seven feet. This length is his greatest asset, it plays a part in quite frankly, everything he does well at the college level. 

He is currently leading the nation in blocks at 4.04 per game or 97 total blocked shots through 24 played games. This is even more impressive considering he only averages 2.3 personal fouls per game, at the college level shot blockers that put up the gaudy numbers that Osaghae has generally have a high foul rate due to them jumping for everything, and hunting blocks. 

Osaghae has found a way to not only erase the shot but do it without fouling which is a valuable skill for a big. This is not only indicative of a high defensive awareness, but elite anticipation, defensive feel, and high motor on that end.

Osaghae is also very laterally quick, and light on his feet for a guy his size. Head coach, Jeremy Ballard, stated after a win against Florida Gulf Coast “We ask him to so more than most big men”, this defensive scheme puts Osaghae out of position for rebounds which can explain his less than spectacular rebounding numbers for a guy with his length and athletic ability.

Although, it is currently not a strength his shooting is definitely intriguing. Osaghae has raised his free throw shooting roughly 5.25% every season since his freshman year. With context, Osaghae had a low free throw attempt rate his first two years and his final two years, he had a relatively high one which was coupled with an average free throw percentage of 65.7. 

Him attempting 3’s now when he only took 1 in the previous three years is a positive sign that he might eventually shoot the ball, due to increased confidence and working on his jumper. This skill is ancillary in an ever more spread out NBA game.

Osaghae is also one of the nations best high volume play finishers (around the rim finishes, rim running etc.), shooting 72.3% around the basket on non post-ups, which ranks him in the 95th percentile. 

Osaghae has been the best player in recent FIU memory, and has the best chance in years to be an NBA player. However, FIU fans may have got quite ahead of themselves calling him a future NBA guy when his weaknesses are pretty damning and cap his NBA prospects.

First and foremost is his size. Osaghae lacks NBA size for the center position. He is 6’9, potentially shorter considering there are still listings of him recently at 6’7, skinny, and does not have the athleticism to make up for his physical shortcomings in the way a player like Brandon Clarke did. 

Although the NBA is moving away from big, bruising centers (i.e. the Houston Rockets) Osaghae has gotten dislodged multiple times by players much smaller than him, and he’s been abused multiple times by guys with NBA size. His listed weight is somewhere between 230 and 250 lbs. 

Which is a pretty big guy considering his height. However, he lacks the size in his lower body and core strength to really stand a chance against bigger guys who can knock him off of balance with relative ease. 

Osaghae’s height will also hurt him on the boards against bigger, stronger, and more athletic players than he sees in conference USA, considering he only grabs about eight a game (even considering schematics, this is unacceptable for an NBA prospect, that is 22 years old with the physical traits that he owns)

PantherNOW spoke with a former Phoenix Suns draft consultant, Spencer Pearlman, about Osasu’s jump shooting and where it could go from here. 

After analyzing his jump shot he determined that he has a long way to go before it can become weaponized or a consistent tool under his belt due to the wonky, Lonzo-esque, form he shoots with, bringing the ball to the left side of his face, and having his off hand on top of the ball, pretty much the exact opposite of what any shooting coach would ever teach their athletes to do (unless your trainer is LaVar Ball)

“Osasu’s ball-handling and passing ability need a lot of work as well. He looks very uncomfortable when he’s pressured on the perimeter and forced to put the ball on the deck. He dribbles with his head down when pressured, often leading to turnovers or bad shots. This affects his ability to pass, as he’ll miss open teammates when he’s not looking up. If Kabengele really pushes himself to improve his ball-handling ability, the game will really open up for him and make things easier for himself and teammates. He does not turn over the ball much but it is clear that when pressured he has trouble passing it, which is an essential skill in all prospects, advanced court mapping and quick decision making to keep an offense running smoothly and not stagnating once a specific player touches the ball.” said Pearlman. 

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